QED: Electric Field - Can We Observe Photons?

In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of quantum electrodynamics and how it gave up the concept of actual fields in favor of the idea that electromagnetic information is transmitted by photons. The question raised is whether these photons can be observed or if they are just a mathematical concept. The response explains that quantum fields permeate all of spacetime and that photons are usually virtual and cannot be directly observed. A link is provided for further discussion and a summary of the topic is given in a physics FAQ.
  • #1
235
0
hi

i heard some things about quantum electrodynamics and one thing was that they gave up the concept of actual fields and said that the electromagnetic information from one particle to the other is transported by photons.

Now my question is: Can one observe these photons or is it just a mathematical concept?
 
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  • #2
Gavroy said:
hi

i heard some things about quantum electrodynamics and one thing was that they gave up the concept of actual fields and said that the electromagnetic information from one particle to the other is transported by photons.

Now my question is: Can one observe these photons or is it just a mathematical concept?

There may be some terminology here I have forgotten as I don't quite understand the idea that we have given up the concept of fields... but as far as I am aware, quantum fields by definition cover all spacetime. They permeate every corner of spacetime, and this is what a quantum field is.

As for being able to observe photons, we are yet to directly observe any particle. We have imaging computers which can take rather serious scans of particles at very small levels. Some consider this as good as an observation, others don't. When we talk of photons being shared between electrons, these photons are usually virtual photons. We cannot see them, but we know they exist because they have real effects in the world around us on the very small scales.
 
  • #3

1. What is QED and how does it relate to electric fields?

Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) is a theory in physics that explains how light and matter interact. It explains the behavior of electric and magnetic fields, and how they are affected by the presence of charged particles. In particular, QED helps us understand the role of photons in creating and interacting with electric fields.

2. Can we directly observe photons in an electric field?

No, we cannot directly observe photons in an electric field. This is because photons are extremely small particles and their interactions with matter are very difficult to detect. However, we can indirectly observe photons by studying the behavior of electric fields and how they are affected by the presence of charged particles.

3. How do photons create an electric field?

Photons do not create electric fields themselves, but rather their interactions with charged particles create electric fields. According to QED, photons are the carriers of the electromagnetic force, and when they interact with charged particles, they can transfer energy and momentum, which results in the creation of an electric field.

4. What experiments have been done to study the role of photons in electric fields?

There have been many experiments to study the role of photons in electric fields. One famous experiment is the photoelectric effect, which showed that light is composed of discrete packets of energy (photons) and their interactions with matter can cause the emission of electrons. Other experiments include studying the behavior of charged particles in electric fields using particle accelerators and observing the scattering of photons off of charged particles using detectors.

5. What are the practical applications of QED and understanding the role of photons in electric fields?

Understanding QED and the role of photons in electric fields has many practical applications. Some examples include the development of new technologies such as lasers, solar cells, and medical imaging techniques. QED also plays a crucial role in our understanding of the fundamental laws of physics and has led to the development of other important theories such as quantum mechanics and the standard model of particle physics.

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